The Creative Art Of Jerry Cox
Great Art Quotes and notes recorded by Beth Kidwell


This is the test of the highest form of art – that it should stimulate the imagination and suggest more than it expresses. Birge Harrison in Landscape Painting

“The simplest subjects are the immortal ones.” Pierre-Auguste Renoir

…for technique….should always hide itself modestly behind the thing to be expressed. Jean Millet as quoted by Birge Harrison in Landscape Painting

For it is the personality which makes the art. Nature, however beautiful, is not art. Art is natural beauty interpreted through human temperament. Birge Harrison in Landscape Painting

….vibration is obtained by means of a cool overtone painted freshly into a warm undertone, care being taken not to mix or blend the two coats and not to cover up completely the undertone, rather letting it show through brokenly all over the canvas; the vibration being secured, naturally, by the separate play of the warm and the cold notes. This method has first of all the great advantage of being thoroughly logical; for in nature herself the undertones are represented by the local color of the various units---leaves, grass, rocks, and good rich earth; and these are always warmer and more vivid in color than the lights dropped upon their surfaces by the over-arching sky. (All design, mass changes are to be made in the undertone before any overtone is applied. Over mixing vibration causes grey mud.) While we wish to secure broken color, we must avoid broken values, for they utterly destroy atmosphere.  Nature deals in broken color everywhere, but she never deals in broken values. The color dances, but the values “stay put”. As to the general tint of color of the undertone….it can never in any two pictures be alike. It will vary infinitely…There would seem to be only two rules that cannot be broken: first the undertone must be warmer than the overtone, and second it must never be brown, and this for the reason that out of door nature abhors brown, and never uses it.  Birge Harrison in Landscape Painting

How may we best secure the lost-edge and the other qualities deriving from refraction while maintaining crisp drawing and a free and agreeable brushwork. ….we can hardly do better than studying the two great masters of the art, Corot and Whistler. Prepare for the refraction, as they did, by lowering values as you approach the edge, so that the final stroke which draws your limb or your tree may be as fresh and as crisp as possible without being hard; and if you are painting in broken color-that is, using prismatic vibration to secure luminosity-then do all this preparatory work full and carefully in the undertone, so that the final painting may be accomplished with that dash and freedom which, say what you may, will always remain an admirable quality in a picture. Birge Harrison in Landscape Painting

I think one’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes. I see no reason for painting but that. If I have anything to offer, it is my emotional contact with the place where I live and the people I do.   Andrew Wyeth

It is light that gives mystery to shadow, vibration to atmosphere, and makes all the color notes sing together in harmony.
-Theodore Clement Steele

One day, when I was four years old, I was riding in the back seat of my grandfather's 1936 Hupmobile. Passing through Beacon Hill Park in Victoria BC, I spied a lone woman on a stool with a big easel. "Look, Papa, an artist," I said. My grandfather--I can still see the expression on his face--looked over his shoulder and confided, "Her name is Emily Carr. Some people think she's crazy."


Within a few years of that occasion, the crazy woman had passed away and then there were only her paintings and writings. Widely recognized toward the end of her life, Emily was a unique product of a Victorian upbringing, a West Coast vision and the influence of modern mentors. Emily is one of my favorites--if not always for her paintings, for her words and her spirit. Her remarkable books started appearing in 1941. In them we get a glimpse of the anxieties and joys of a creative pioneer--an original thinker with an attitude.


"When you really think about your hand you begin to realize its connection, to sense the hum of your own being passing through it. When we look at a piece of the universe we should feel the same," she says. Emily felt the hum and found a way to respond. Painting in the "marvelous modern manner," she wondered if she might "ever feel the burst of birth-joy, that knowing that the indescribable, joyous thing that has wooed and won me has passed through my life." Emily was a spiritual being who responded to the great forests and the native cultures of our coast. She was a quirky loner, who hoisted the chairs of her studio so guests would not have a place to linger. For those she "found interesting," she might just lower one down.


Too young to test her hospitality, I nevertheless ingested her writing. Her words got me going. "There is something bigger than fact: the underlying spirit, all it stands for, the mood, the vastness, the wildness." This wildness took both of us away in boat and camper, on voyages of discovery and countless sorties of unfinished business. "Sincerity itself is religion,"

she told me, and I believed.


It was with Emily that I first glimpsed the brotherhood and sisterhood of artists. I was pleasantly surprised that her concerns were mine: "You always feel when you look it straight in the eye that you could have put more into it, could have let yourself go and dug harder."

Best regards, Robert


PS: "Over and over one must ask oneself the question, 'What do I want to express? What is my ideal, what is my objective? What? Why? Why? What?'" (Emily Carr, 1871--1945)


Esoterica: Over the years I've placed my bottom on the same spot where Emily tarried and painted--as if I might catch some of her spirit. In dark times and in bright, it's been difficult not to have her around. "Let the movement be slow and savor of solidity at the base and rise quivering to the tree tops and to the sky, always rising to meet it joyously and tremulously. The spirit must be perpetually moving through, carrying on and inducing a thirst for more and a desire to rise." I attended her grave at Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria. Her inauspicious stone reads, "Artist and Author, Lover of Nature." What more could anyone want?


~I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it ~ Vincent Van Gogh


Light Source options in painting:

Light source inside the picture plane

Light source outside the picture plane

Dappled impressions or "scrim" lighting

Against the light and "contraluz" effects Edge lighting for separation and description Aerial perspective through intervening light Two-source lighting--often a warm and a cool Reflected lighting to enhance form, space or realism Amorphous lighting to promote mystery and strangeness Selective lighting--e.g. lit background, foreground shade Standard "set" lighting: fill, focus, and eye-light, etc.


"My goal in work is not to show what I know, but what Ifeel.ᅠ  The more intensely I can express emotion through paint about the subject, the more likely the viewer willrespond.ᅠ  All I can do is make an honest effort and then accept withoutjudgment.ᅠ  To remain neutral about the paintings and to not judge them as good or bad is very important to moving forward.

My best work comes when I'm able to give up control, to trust myimpulses.ᅠ  Then the painting takes on a life of itsown.ᅠ  When I don't know what is going to happen next, the process becomes full of surprise and wonder."

Walt Gonske


PS: "Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself. They come through you but are not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you." (Kahlil Gibran)

(This is how I feel about art.)


“There is a dynamic tension that is, I believe, essential to all art, and this is as true of painting as it is of literature, cinema, or the performing arts. Tension is necessary for the transformation of what might otherwise be a static representation. It’s a way of turning a pleasantly decorative image into a dynamic, vital form of expression. It is also a key element of how visual artists approach composition: Painters balance warm and cool colors, sharp contrast and subtleties, horizontal and vertical thrusts, near and distant forms, and lost or found edges. Part of the process is determining how to balance those options. If a color is too hot, I make it cool; if an edge is too hard, I make it soft; and if a shape recedes too far into the distance, I bring it forward. Again, that’s part of the dialogue between me and the painting.” Mary Sipp-Green


A bird does not sing because it has an answer.

A bird signs because it has a song.  Chinese proverb


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Chinese proverb


It is a funny thing about life;

If you refuse to accept anything but the best,

you very often get it.   W. Somerset Maugham


Fari Que Sentias   Do as you damn please - carved into an over door stone, Philadelphia MFA


Art is the refining of the sense of truthfulness.  Willa Cather


The painter who has no doubt about his own ability will attain very little. Leonard da Vinci


My aim is to escape from the medium with which I work.  Andrew Wyeth

The ability to see is the responsibility for having it. Simon Kogan





When Earth’s last picture is painted and the tubes are twisted and dried,

 When the oldest colours have faded, and the youngest critic has died,

We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it – lie down for an aeon or two,

 Till the Master of All Good Workmen shall put us to work anew.

And those that were good shall be happy; they shall sit in a golden chair;

 They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comets’ hair.

 They shall find real saints to draw from – Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;

  They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!


And only The Master shall praise us, and only The Master shall blame;

 And no one shall work for money, and no one shall work for fame,

 But each for the joy of the working, and each, in his separate star,

Shall draw the Things as he sees It for the God of Things as They are!



Rudyard Kipling

Pablo Picasso was quoted in a 1952 interview he gave to Giovanni Papini in Libro Nero. The master said:


 In art the mass of people no longer seeks consolation and exaltation, but those who are refined, rich, unoccupied, who are distillers of quintessences, seek what is new, strange, original, extravagant, scandalous. I myself, since Cubism and before, have satisfied these masters and critics with all the changing oddities which passed through my head, and the less they understood me, the more they admired me. By amusing myself with all these games, with all these absurdities, puzzles, rebuses, arabesques, I became famous and very quickly. And fame for a painter means sales, gains, fortune, riches. And today, as you know, I am celebrated, I am rich. But when I am alone with myself, I have not the courage to think of myself as an artist in the great and ancient sense of the term.  Giotto, Titian, Rembrandt were great painters. I am only a public entertainer who has understood his times and exploited as best he could the imbecility, the vanity, the cupidity of his contemporaries. Mine is a bitter confusion, more painful than it may appear but it has the merit of being sincere.

(Copied from actual article in Richard Loffler’s wallet).


Not all who wander are lost.   J.R.R. Tolkien



PS: "Of course you will say that I ought to be practical and try to paint the way they want me to paint. Well, I'll tell you a secret. I have tried and I have tried very hard, but I can't do it. I just can't do it! And that is why I'm just a little crazy." (Rembrandt Van Rijn 1606-69)


“It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way. So we must dig and delve unceasingly.”  Claude Monet


“In my workroom, as in my thoughts, there is little difference between couture and ready-to-wear.

What I find most important is that we strive to create a product that is empowering, and harmonious with the spiritual essence of a woman.” ‘Chado’ Ralph Rucci  First American fashion designer to be accepted

in Paris. He chose the name Chado, from the ancient Japanese tea ritual because it symbolizes respect, tranquility, grace and integrity. These are the same elements with which he approached his work.


The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and ironically, the more real.”
Lucian Freud

“Carry the beginning to the last stroke.” (Kevin Weckbach)

“Original art that is created is like a flower, every Spring new and every time a little different.” (Kevin Weckbach)


"Titian, Rembrandt and Goya were the great painters. I am only a public clown." (Pablo Picasso)


“The difference between looking and seeing is called comparison. Looking without studying relationships is a luxury (an artist) cannot afford.”  (Bill Parks AAA)


“Contour can not only show outside shapes; but also inside ones as when a muscle or a bone comes in front of or goes behind one another.” (Bill Parks AAA)


What distinguishes a great artist from a weak one is first their sensibility
and tenderness; second, their imagination, and third, theirindustry.
ᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠᅠ  John Ruskin


“Art should be an uncompromising and unending search for truth.” Me and others


"Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt." (William Shakespeare)


“Every good artist paints what he is.” Jackson Pollock


“Colors like features follow the changes of the emotions.” Picasso


“All colors are the friends of their neighbors and the lovers of their opposites.” Marc Chagall


“If you can talk about it, why paint it?” Francis Bacon


“No matter what the illusion, it is a flat canvas and it has to be organized into shape.”  David Hockney


“Good composition is like a suspension bridge, each line adds strength and takes none away…making lines run into each other is not composition, there must be motive for the connection. That is composition.” Robert Henri


“Even in front of nature one must compose.” Edgar Degas


“If I did what has already been done, I would be a plagiarist and would consider myself unworthy; so I do something different and people call me a scoundrel. I’d rather be a scoundrel than a plagiarist.” Paul Gauguin


“It is better to be nothing than a follower of other painters. The wise man has said when one follows another one is always behind.”

Jean Baptiste Camille Corot


“Creation is the artist’s true function; where there is no creation there is no art.” Henri Matisse


“You must create your own world. I am responsible for my world.”

Louise Nevelson


“An idea is the beginning point and no more…Nothing else matters; creation is all. Have you ever seen a finished picture? A picture or anything else?

Woe to you the day it is said that you are finished! To finish a work? To finish a picture? What nonsense! To finish it means to be through with it, to kill it, to rid it of its soul - to give it its final blow; the most unfortunate one for the painter as well as for the picture.” Picasso


“Creativity takes courage.” Henri Matisse


“At last I could work with complete independence without concerning myself with the eventual judgment of a jury…..I began to live.” After Cassatt had a painting rejected from the Salon.


“Art is man’s distinctly human way of fighting death.” Leonard Baskin


“When we are no longer children we are already dead.” Constantine Brancus


ᅠ  I do not seek to follow the sages of old

ᅠᅠ  I seek what they sought.                        Matsuo Basho 1644-1694


“I don’t paint things. I paint the difference between things.”   Henri Matisse

“Painting: The art of protecting flat surfaces from the weather and exposing them to the critics.” The Demon’s Dictionary  by Ambrose Bieree


"The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance, and this, and not the external manner and detail, is true reality." Aristotle


"I am now quite cured of society, be it country or town. A sensible man ought to find sufficient company in himself."  Emily Bronte


Proficiency in art is a contract with your self and the empowerment of your self. Not all of us demand or even desire proficiency, but for those who do it's necessary to temper the influence of groups. And while some artists think history is bunk, the historical evidence is overwhelming: "In my isolation I grow stronger." Paul Gauguin

"My work is always better when I'm alone and follow my own impressions," Claude Monet

"If the artist is serious he must sink himself in solitude." Edgar Degas

"Solitary trees, if they grow at all, grow strong." Winston Churchill


“An artist’s tendency is to define but the poetry is in what is not defined.” Beth Kidwell


Just heard Charlie Rose interviewing the playwright Albe who says "his efforts are to improve his failures each time he makes a creative attempt"andᅠthatt his best work has not been written............The quest is the thing we live for.............from Bonnie Anderson


"How difficult it is to be simple." Vincent van Gogh


"Brevity is the sister of talent." Anton Chekhov


“The artist should always be the student.”  Edgar Payne


“Art is evidence of our most creative moment.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson


“If not now, when?” water color artist George Post inspired LaLumia to take the leap.


“Painting is really the artist teaching himself to see.” Frank LaLumia


We are just painting light. There is no color without light. Many


"Boldness has genius, power and magic. Engage, and the mind grows heated. Begin, and the work will be completed." Johann Wolfgang von Goeth

ᅠ"Restt not! Life is sweeping by; go dare before you die. Something mighty and sublime, leave behind to conquer time." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Ring the bells that still canring
Forget  your perfectoffering
There  is a crack ineverything
That's  how the light gets in. (Leonard Cohen)  From a song of his


"Genius is the capacity for receiving and improving by discipline." (George Eliot)


"The artist brings something into the world that didn't exist before, and he does it without destroying something else. A kind of refutation of the conservation of matter." (John Updike)


“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson


til one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (& creation), there is one elementary truth-the ignorance of which kills countless ideas & splendid plans:


 That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.


All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents & meetings & material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.


Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.                      Goethe


“There is something deeply gratifying about joining the horses in their pasture a few minutes before the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve. What makes the night exceptional, in their eyes and mine, is my presence among them, not the lapsing of an old year.

 It’s worth standing out in the snow just to savor the anticlimax of midnight, just to acknowledge that out of the tens of millions of species on this planet, only one bothers to celebrate not the passing of time, but the way it has chosen to mark the  passing of time….

 I always wonder what it would be like to belong to a species – just for a while – that isn’t so busy indexing its life, that lives wholly within the single long strand of its being. I will never have even an idea of what that’s like.

 I know because when I stand among the horses tonight, I will feel a change once midnight has come. Some need will have vanished, and I will walk back to the house – lights burning, smoke coming from the wood stove – as if something had been accomplished, some episode closed.”

Verlyn Kinkenborg in the “New York Times”, December 31, 2007


***It's best to plan your pattern first, not after the fact.
Don't be afraid to use thumbnail value plans as starters.
Think of the pattern as a structure that moves the eye.
The eye moves first to the simpler, larger shapes.
The overall pattern is best when it's irregular and varied.
Avoid predictable shapes--blocks, circles, rectangles.
Avoid equality, kissing shapes and homeostatic effects.
Patterns should move beyond the periphery of the work.
The focal area can be more active, with smaller, sharper shapes.
Viewers' eyes ask to be entertained--pattern is the opening act.
Patterns thrive in lights, darks, and plenty of middle tones.
Add mystery--shapes can be muzzy and obscure.
Yin and yang your pattern--alternate dark and light activity.
Squint at your work, invert it, or look at it in a mirror.
Your work should "read" from across the room.     From Robert Genn notes


Canned reference is practically always loaded with problems. Photos, for example, contrive to kill imagination and stifle the natural development of creative patterns. While "ready-mades" do show up from time to time, they are rare. Art need not be what is seen--but what is to be seen. "Nature," said James McNeill Whistler, "is usually wrong."  From Robert Genn notes


What you have to do is break all the rules." (Andrew Wyeth)


“I have spent my days stringing and unstringing my instrument,

While the song I came to sing remains  unsung.” Rabindranath Tagore


“All art is a gift. It is first of all a gift that the maker can do it. It is then a gift to someone else, whether they pay for it or not. The wonder of it is that we cannot get the production of these gifts stopped. Art is life seeking itself. It is our intractable expressions of love for the beauties, ideas and epiphanies we regularly find. I framed the painting. It's now hanging in our den. "I have walked this earth for 30 years, and, out of gratitude, want to leave some souvenir." (Vincent van Gogh)


The observation of nature is part of an artist's life, it enlarges his form and knowledge, keeps him fresh and from working only by formula, and feeds inspiration. (Henry Moore)


There is no more difficult art to acquire than the art of observation, and for some men it is quite as difficult to record an observation in brief and plain language. (Sir William Osler)


Don't observe yourself too closely. Don't be too quick to draw conclusions from what happens to you; simply let it happen. (Rainer Maria Rilke)


The morning wind forever blows, the poem of creation is uninterrupted; but few are the ears to hear it. (Henry David Thoreau)


Blessed are they who see beautiful things in humble places where other people see nothing.  Camille Pissarro


“Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Michelangelo


“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.” John Muir


“The right way to go easy is to forget the right way…” Chuang Tzu 4th Century philosopher


“The purpose of words is to convey ideas. When the ideas are grasped the words are forgotten. Where can I find a man who has forgotten the words? He is the one I would like to talk to. Chuang Tzu 4th C. philosopher.”


“He who pursues fame at the risk of losing himself is not a scholar.” Chuang Tzu 4th C.  philosopher


“Fame is like a river that beareth up things light and swollen, and drowns things weighty and solid.”

Sir Francis Bacon


“Art washes away from the soul the dust of every day life.” Pablo Picasso


“God, I’ve frozen my ass off painting snow scenes.” Andrew Wyeth


“There is only one true thing: Instantly painting what you see.” Edouard Manet


“Painting outdoors is a distillation of time, a capturing of the essence of existence during a specific period in the artist’s experience.” Charles Meunch


“Nature is the indisputable creator and to learn from that master is aesthetically supreme.” E. Kidwell


“There comes a point in painting outdoors where you have to ignore what is in front of you and do what your design requires. E. Kidwell


“Things should be done for your soul and not for sale.”  E. Kidwell


“As difficult as it is to paint outdoors, there is no where else I’d rather work…all the answers stand right before you. You may need to move some things around, but it is still all right there in front of you. A bit like taking an open book test.” William F. Reese


When plein air painting, “I am compelled to abstract the forms and organize the value and color patterns which push me to clarify what I am trying to say in each painting.” Ann Templeton


Plein Aire; Unpredictable, unplanned, difficult to be contemplative, about the sacredness of life and all things, being at one with everything, thrill to be alive, capturing some thing until the light fails, reveals more about the artist than studio work,


“I prefer every time a picture composed and painted outdoors. The thing is done without your knowing it.”

Winslow Homer


“Plein air paintings are like life, and without them my work would die. Without it I would have nothing to see in the studio, because without real life experience, art is impossible.” Scott Burdick


“Working outdoors or from life puts you in direct contact with the life force, not just the light and the landscape, but also the vitality of the world around you.” George Carlson


“All pictures painted inside the studio will never be as good as those painted outside.” Paul Cezanne


“It is not our purpose to become each other; it is to recognize each other, to learn to see the other and honor him for what he is.” Hermann Hesse

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